<p> It&#39;s that time of year again &mdash; the holidays. Time to celebrate with family and friends. Time to deck the halls and wrap the gifts. Time for the bad guys to sneak into your home and rip you off.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p> But there are certain steps you can take to prevent holiday home break-ins. Of course, you should continue to take <a href="">normal home-security precautions</a> to keep your home and your family safe, such as locking your doors and windows, installing a home alarm system and putting up &quot;beware of dog&quot; signs.</p> <p> There is more risk at certain times of the years than at others, during which you have to be much more aware, said Boston-based security expert Robert Siciliano.</p> <p> Here are some tips you can use to keep the bad guys away during the holidays.</p>

Close the shades to prevent strangers peeping inside.

<p> &quot;It&#39;s fine to display your Christmas tree at night, but be aware that you&#39;re also displaying loads of presents,&quot; Siciliano said. &quot;Maybe consider closing the shades during the day. You don&#39;t want to make it too tempting for the burglar.&quot;</p> <p> Don&#39;t display the tree too near the window, because it&#39;s very easy for a thief to smash the window and grab your gifts.</p> <p> [<a href="">10 Home Security Tips You Haven&#39;t Thought Of</a>]</p>

Turn the Christmas tree/holiday lights off when you go to bed or when you go out.

<p> This way you won&#39;t attract the unwanted attention of a burglar &mdash; or fail to notice a fire started by faulty tree lights.</p> <p> [<a href="">Make an Old Computer Your Home Security System</a>]</p>

Beware of fake delivery people trying to get in your house.

<p> Don&#39;t open doors for strangers, no matter who they say they are. Call the delivery company to confirm deliveries are being made and/or look for the presence of delivery trucks.</p> <p> [<a href="">6 Tips to Protect Your Holiday Package Deliveries</a>]</p>

Unload expensive items inside your garage.

<p> Don&#39;t take large, expensive items out of your car in broad daylight for all the world to see. If you have a garage, unload the items there. Otherwise, remove them when it&#39;s dark.</p> <p> [<a href="">How to Secure Your Home, Auto and Smartphone</a>]</p>

Be careful of how you dispose of boxes and wrapping paper.

<p> Don&#39;t put empty packaging for your new computer, tablet, TV or stereo system on the curb for trash or recycling pick up, Siciliano said.</p> <p> The burglars will be glad you alerted them to all the goodies you received. A burglar will often be back to steal the replacement items as well.</p> <p> &quot;You should keep any box for things you might need to return for 90 days. After 90 days, tear up the box so it&#39;s indistinguishable then recycle it or put it in a black trash bag,&quot; Siciliano said.</p> <p> &quot;When you throw out wrapping paper after your gifts have been opened, you should do the same. It&#39;s funny &mdash; after Christmas I can roll down the street and see what everybody got for Christmas.&quot;</p> <p> [<a href="">How to Defend Yourself Against Home Invasion</a>]</p>

Don&#39;t run extension cords for exterior Christmas/holiday lights through a window.

<p> Doing that will leave the window open slightly, and you won&#39;t be able to lock it. The best thing to do is to hire an electrician or someone to install an inexpensive exterior outlet where you can plug in your holiday lights.</p> <p> [<a href="">8 Security Basics the Experts Want You to Know</a>]</p>

Don&#39;t broadcast any planned holiday travel on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.

<p> People love to tell each other where they&#39;re going on Christmas vacation, especially if it&#39;s someplace warm or expensive. You know who loves to hear it? Burglars, who now know when you won&#39;t be home.</p> <p> [<a href="">Vacation Home Safety: Don&#39;t Tip Off Thieves When You&#39;re Out of Town</a>]</p>

Don&#39;t leave cute messages on your voicemail or answering machine alerting people that you&#39;re visiting grandma.

<p> It&#39;s easy for a burglar to get your name off your mailbox and then call to see if you&#39;re home, according to Siciliano.</p> <p> [<a href="">Best Security Cameras to Protect Your Home</a>]</p>

8 Tips to Protect Your Home During the Holidays